The Most Famous Spanish Dish: Paella


Considered by many as Spain’s national dish, the emblematic paella is a flavorful concoction that has won the hearts of many throughout the world. A jumble of cooked-to-savory-softness yellow rice mixed with fresh seafood, red meat and a myriad of condiments, the paella makes for a hearty Mediterranean meal.  Best enjoyed by the beach, paella is a favorite of both locals and tourists alike. As one of the most typical Spanish dishes, paella can be found all over Spain and enjoyed all year round.

Paella is actually a Valencian dish, originated near the lake Albufera in Valencia. Most people recognize paella by the flat pan that it is usually dished up in — also known as paella.  There are actually several types of paella with the three main types being the Valencian paella (main difference being beans and snails), seafood paella (with calamari and prawns instead) and mixed paella (combination of everything).

The origins of paella

Paella is a Catalan word (Valenciano language is similar to Catalan in many ways), meaning pan. As mentioned, the dish was given its name thanks to the specialized shallow black pan that is usually used to cook it.

Although Spain is the birthplace of paella, the dish was actually created under the Moorish influence. The Arabs often made casseroles of rice, fish and spices, which led to Spain adopting rice as a staple of their diet by the 15th century. Since seafood was available in Spain’s eastern coast, it became popular to combine rice with vegetables and seafood, which slowly evolved to become the modern-day paella.

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Where to find the best Paella

Paella are sold in almost every other restaurant in Spain — in varying types and flavors. The best paella is said to be found in Valencia, its birthplace. There are plenty of seafood restaurants in Valencia that serve up outrageously taste paella, especially those in the town of Denia. In many restaurants, you’ll find cooks preparing massive portions of paella on huge pans — apart from being an attraction, it also gives you a chance to witness how a traditional paella is prepared.

The paella is the most typical Spanish food to sample when traveling in Spain; for first-time visitors, be sure to order a paella for a taste of Spain’s unique flavors.

For more information on Spanish foods:

>> What to Eat in Spain: Famous Spanish Foods
>> The First Timer’s Guide to Tapas Etiquette
>> Twitter Poll: What’s Your Favorite Spanish Food and Where to Eat them?

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